July 18, 2018

Irish senate advances boycott bill criminalizing trade with Israeli settlements

14 July 2018, 11:43 | Glen Norman

The proposal was led by Independent Senator Frances Black

The proposal was led by Independent Senator Frances Black

If passed, the bill will have to go through several more stages of review and amendment before it is signed into a law.

Ireland is moving closer to boycotting all goods produced by Israeli settlements established in territories occupied since 1967, and to considering trade with these settlements a criminal offense.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned the Irish ambassador in January over the issue and expressed his dissatisfaction, and the Israeli Embassy in Ireland condemned the Bill last week.

The Irish government has said the bill would be unworkable and has instead called for a European Union response.

In a statement, Israel's Foreign Ministry criticized the Irish Senate for supporting "a populist, risky and extremist anti-Israel boycott initiative". Orde F. Kittrie - who teaches law at Arizona State University and is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) think tank - asserted that if "companies abide by the Irish law, they could violate USA law, which prohibits US companies from participating in foreign boycotts that the USA government does not endorse".

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This is the first bill of its kind in the EU.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Wednesday that it risked "fanning flames" in the Middle East.

The legislation now faces eight stages that include a committee meeting and a vote in Dáil Éireann, Ireland's House of Representatives.

Ireland imports a number of agricultural and cosmetic settlement products, including those produced by Ahava.

All parties except the ruling Fine Gael endorsed the bill.

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Dr. Rodica Radian-Gordon, deputy director general for Western Europe at the foreign ministry, told Kelly that Israel was firmly opposed to such legislation and made it clear that from Jerusalem's perspective any initiative to boycott settlement products is a BDS initiative.

The UK Government has formally objected to the erasure of Khan Al-Ahmar, supporting the position of the United Nations that settlements are illegal under global law, but has been criticised by Labour for offering nothing in the way of concrete actions to back up this objection. The Irish no longer viewed Israel as the underdog struggling for national rights, but instead as a foreign occupier on someone else's land (the Palestinians), similar to the Irish experience with British control over Northern Ireland.

Saeb Erekat, senior leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, called the move by Ireland's upper house, Senead, "historic" and urge other countries to do the same.

The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which has been at the forefront of anti-Israel sentiment in Ireland, led to Israel banning some 20 activists associated with the Dublin-based group from entering the Jewish state as part of a "blacklist" by the Israeli government targeting anti-Israel BDS groups.

"Stand up for what you believe in and hold Israel to account".

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